The WWE Raw brand presented the Tables, Ladders & Chairs (TLC) event from Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was a card that underwent a lot of changes since Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt were out of action due to viral infections. Reigns was replaced by Kurt Angle in the 3 on 5 main event in what was Angle’s first WWE match in 11 years, while Wyatt was replaced by Smackdown’s AJ Styles.

Here’s a rundown of every match in the order they took place, and I’ll also look at what’s next for the performers as well.

The Kickoff Show match was Sasha Banks beating Alicia Fox with the Bank Statement submission just like she did on Raw. I skipped it.

Asuka defeated Emma

They wrestled for about ten minutes with Asuka getting the win in her main roster debut. I thought the match went on too long. There was no reason for Asuka to have a back and forth match where Emma got in half of the offense. What’s the point of that? They spent the last month hyping Asuka’s Raw roster debut, she dominated everybody in NXT and now she’s on the main roster having an even match. Book her strong! Just because it’s a PPV match doesn’t mean it needs to be some even matchup. Anyway, Emma never really came close to winning and Asuka won with her Asuka Lock submission. The crowd was firmly behind Asuka.

What’s Next: Asuka should continue to rack up wins against Raw’s other women. It would make sense for her not to get a title shot until WrestleMania and have her get the Raw Women’s Title there, but this is WWE where they had Bayley win her first Raw Women’s Title on a random Raw in February instead of WrestleMania. I can’t explain why they did that. It was one of the stupidest moves this year. Asuka was undefeated in NXT and I doubt she loses a match any time soon on the main roster. As for Emma, she is mostly just there to put over the other women that get the bigger pushes.

Cedric Alexander & Rich Swann defeated Brian Kendrick & Jack Gallagher

It got about eight minutes with the faces going over. Typical tag match that you would see on Raw or 205 Live (if people watch that?) with Swann getting worked over for most of it and Alexander was on fire after the hot tag. Alexander won with the Lumbar Check (great looking move) on Kendrick to win. In my preview, I had Kendrick and Gallagher winning just because Alexander beat Gallagher clean on Raw. I don’t mind this ending, though. Alexander and Swann are an exciting team that the fans like to root for.

What’s Next: It’s possible that Alexander gets into the Cruiserweight Title picture because he hasn’t been pushed to the top of that division yet. If they get behind him, then perhaps he’ll get over as a bigger star and could be the top face in the division.

Alexa Bliss defeated Mickie James to retain the Raw Women’s Championship

This got about 12 minutes and was the third longest match on the show. James slapped Bliss in the ass early on. The crowd should have chanted “biscuit butt,” but they did not. Bliss worked on the arm of James for most of the match, which was fine because Mickie’s selling has always been a strength of hers. Problem is that Bliss doesn’t have submission moves in her arsenal and when she slapped on armbars, they looked so weak. Mickie did a good job with her comeback although I think they should have had a nearfall spot for Mickie to make it look like she might win. Bliss ended up getting the win by sending Mickie’s (injured in the storyline) left shoulder into the turnbuckle and hitting a DDT to win. I’ve said this before, but that finish by Bliss is so weak when we see DDTs in every match. It’s easy for her since she’s able to do it to most of her opponents. I just think it’s silly that it wins a match yet people can do tornado DDTs getting two counts.

After the loss, Mickie did a tearful babyface promo talking about how she is not done and that she will win that Women’s Title again. You don’t see too many promos by losers after a big match, but this was well done and I hope Mickie remains in the face role because she’s so great at it.

What’s Next: Bliss is their long term Raw Women’s Champion. With women like Bayley, Sasha Banks and Asuka there as faces, there are plenty of future opponents for her. I’d rather see Banks as the heel champion if I could pick anybody. I hope James is in the mix too, but it may be further down the line for her to get the title.

Kurt Angle was in the locker room getting ready for the main event. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose showed up to give him a Shield vest for the main event. Angle was happy to wear it.

Enzo Amore defeated Kalisto to win the Cruiserweight Champion

Enzo was losing his voice in the opening promo, so he talked less than usual. The title change means that Kalisto’s title reign lasted only a few weeks. It was no surprise that Enzo got the title back since he’s the most featured performer in the cruiserweight division. I thought this was the worst match on the show, but it wasn’t terrible either. There were just times where the crowd showed no interest because Kalisto isn’t that popular as a face opponent. The finish saw Enzo pull the ring apron into the ring while Kalisto was going after him. The ref put the ring apron back in the ring spot, which allowed Enzo to do an eye poke (would be a DQ if the ref saw it) and then Enzo hit his Jordunzo finishing move to win. They got just under ten minutes.

What’s Next: I think Enzo’s second title run will last longer than the first one did. Build up a face opponent (like Cedric Alexander) and wait a few months for the next title change. No need to rush it. While I’m not a huge fan of Enzo’s in-ring work, he is entertaining as a heel and people will want to see him get his ass kicked as a champion.

“The Demon” Finn Balor defeated AJ Styles

This was the dream match added on Friday with Styles flying in from a Smackdown tour of South America to replace Bray Wyatt. Match of the night, which is no surprise considering how good these two are. I also think this was the best match Balor has had on the main roster. Styles has had better matches including the Royal Rumble match with John Cena from earlier this year (my 2017 WWE Match of the Year so far), but it’s been a while for him having a classic on PPV like this.

It was a really even match that went back and forth for about 18 minutes. Keep in mind, this was the first match they have ever had with each other and they only knew about it two days earlier, so for them to be this good in their first match together was great to see. I thought they planned it really well. Loved how they did the spot on the floor, then rushed back in the ring before the ten count. Then doing the double clothesline and double cross body block. The only surprising thing about the match is that there was only one finishing move. I thought this might be a match where they each hit a few finishers. Nope. Styles never hit any of his (although he did use the Calf Crusher submission), while Balor won with just one Coup de Gras, which is a double foot stomp off the top. It looked like Balor really nailed him with that move.

This was a top ten WWE PPV match this year and I look forward to seeing a rematch. Considering there were multiple “this is awesome” chants, I assume the fans want to see it again too.

After the match, they had a cool moment where Balor helped Styles to his feet and they did the “Tooo Sweet” hand gesture together.

What’s Next: Balor will probably have that blowoff match with Wyatt whenever Wyatt is over his sickness. That could be a match on Raw in a few weeks or maybe Survivor Series. Not sure if it will be The Demon vs. Sister Abigail as advertised. After that, Balor could be a future PPV opponent for Brock Lesnar perhaps at the Royal Rumble. It would be an interesting match with Balor as the underdog against the bigger champion. As for Styles, back to Smackdown for him as he targets the WWE Championship held by Jinder Mahal. Since Jinder vs. Lesnar is at Survivor Series, Styles vs. Jinder may be at the December Smackdown “Clash of Champions” PPV.

Jason Jordan defeated Elias

This was set up by Elias trying to do his concerts two times during the show, but Jason Jordan interrupted him by throwing vegetables at him. Yep, it really happened. Jordan was on the stage with a shopping cart tossing vegetables and some fruits. That led to the match.

Boring match that was hurt by a clash of styles. Elias was on offense for most of it. Jordan made his comeback and couldn’t do as many suplexes as he usually does probably because Elias is bigger. The finish saw Jordan get an inside cradle, Elias looked like he got out of it before the ref counted the three, but the match ended in controversial fashion. The announcers bickered through most of the match and then argued about it after it was over.

What’s Next: They will probably do the match again on Raw because that’s how WWE books feuds like this. Both guys will hover around the midcard and have more matches even though they lack chemistry.

Kurt Angle, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose defeated Kane, Braun Strowman, The Miz, Sheamus & Cesaro in a Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match

There was a lot to take in here because it went 35 minutes, so apologies if you feel like I missed something. The crowd was hot right away when they saw Rollins and Ambrose in the crowd for The Shield’s classic entrance with Angle standing behind them. Great way to start it. I am sad a bit, because the Angle fan in me wants to see his classic entrance for his first WWE match in 11 years, but that’s okay. It was right to do it this way.

Since it was a 3 on 5 match, it was tough for them to just pair off and use the weapons that were provided to them at ringside. That’s why they had to do stuff like having Cesaro & Sheamus get beat up on one side of the arena followed up by Ambrose, Rollins, and Angle going after Kane and Braun Strowman. That attack on the big guys led to both of them getting set up on the announce table while Rollins and Ambrose climbed ladders and jumped off with splashes that put the big guys through the tables. That was a great sight.

Angle was on fire with German Suplexes on Miz, Cesaro and Sheamus, which drew a huge response from the crowd because it had been so long since Angle had done that in a WWE ring. The fun for Angle didn’t last that long because Strowman was able to slow him down and gave him a Running Powerslam through a table at ringside. It was a safe bump for Angle, who is 48 years old, because Strowman held him in his arms and delivered the move the best way he could. Angle ended up being carried to the back, so they wrote him out of the majority of the match. That’s something WWE has done with Brock Lesnar a few times.

There was a key spot in the ring where Kane accidentally hit Strowman with a chair after he was going for Rollins. This was around the time when Ambrose was put through a table by Sheamus and Cesaro, but it didn’t break. Strowman ended up throwing Ambrose through it. The heels ended up going up the ramp with the faces as The Miz called for a garbage truck to appear by the the stage. While up there, Kane turned on Strowman because he was jealous of him being a big guy, I guess. Kane gave Strowman a Chokeslam off the stage through some side of the stage. It was likely a soft landing, but still looked great. Kane also dumped about 8-10 chairs onto Strowman. The heels tried to put Rollins and Ambrose into the garbage truck, but Seth and Dean fought out of it. Kane ended up doing a double Chokeslam to Seth and Dean. Once again, Dean didn’t go through the table and the bump looked painful. Strowman got back to his feet, so he went after Kane. The attack from Strowman failed because the four heels attacked him and dumped into the garbage truck. The device in the back of the truck went up, so the idea is that Strowman was trapped in there. A chant of “that was murder” started after that.

I assume the Strowman spot was done to turn him into a face since he is liked so much by the fans. It can lead to Strowman feuding with Kane, which should lead to a few matches with Strowman going over similar to how Strowman beat Big Show three times on Raw.

The four heels took Ambrose and Rollins into the ring to beat on them some more. That’s when Kurt Angle made his return still in his Shield gear except this time he entered to his classic “You Suck” theme song. Angle destroyed Sheamus and Cesaro in the aisle. There was an Angle Slam for Sheamus in the aisle while Cesaro took an Angle Slam through a table that was in the aisle. That was a great bump. With Sheamus and Cesaro neutralized, Rollins and Ambrose went after Kane on the floor. They took Kane out with a double Spear through the barricade at ringside. Nice tribute for Roman Reigns. Miz hit Angle with a Skull Crushing Finale for two as Angle got his shoulder. Not a lot of nearfalls in this match, but that was good.

The finish of the match saw Rollins hit the knee to the face of Miz, Ambrose hit Miz with the Dirty Deeds DDT, and Angle hit the Angle Slam. To end it, Rollins and Ambrose picked up Miz so that Angle could deliver the three man Shield Powerbomb dubbed the “Olympic Shield Bomb” by announcer Corey Graves. Great name for it.

I’m not going to call it an amazing main event that you need to go out of your way to see, but I enjoyed it for the most part. The spots with Angle were really well done. Angle being taken out of the match for 15-20 minutes was fine because the focus was on others anyway. It’s not like Angle should be taking some of the bumps Ambrose and Rollins were taking when Kurt is a 48 year old part timer.  The garbage truck stuff was so random. I’m not sure who came up with or why, but like I noted earlier it was done to make Strowman come back as a face seeking revenge. The finish was really well done with Angle coming back to take care of Sheamus and Cesaro while Dean/Seth took out Kane leading to Miz being left alone to take the pin. I thought the heels might win to build to Roman’s return whenever that happens, but I’m fine with being wrong here.

The match was fun to watch. We can all poke holes in it for having some problems technically and being ridiculous with the garbage truck, but I still had fun watching it. Everybody worked hard and the crowd was into most of it.

What’s Next: Strowman will likely come back as a face, leading to a feud with Kane. I don’t know if they will have good matches because Kane is nearly 50 and it’s tough for him at this point. Strowman will go over, of course. The Miz is still IC Champion and needs a rival. Maybe Jason Jordan gets more of a serious shot at it. I feel like Rollins/Ambrose are done with Sheamus/Cesaro for now, so maybe Gallows/Anderson step up as next title contenders. It was great to see Kurt Angle back in action, but I think WWE will hold off on putting him in a featured singles match at WrestleMania. I can see Angle being part of a tag match at Survivor Series, though.

A lot of what’s next depends on the health of Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt. They are both home this week and will be re-evaluated next week according to reports. Keep in mind that Samoa Joe is due back any week now after a knee injury that kept him out for about two months.

In Closing

I thought TLC was a slightly above average show thanks in part to Balor/Styles being great and all of the fun moments going into the main event. We knew going into it that this was mostly going to be about the two main events. If they sucked then this would be one of the worst shows of the year, but it ended up being pretty good. Most of the midcard matches were solid and even the worst matches on the card were easy to get through. Give WWE some credit for making the best out of a bad situation with the absences of Reigns and Wyatt. The show was probably better without them there.

The next WWE pay-per-view is Survivor Series on November 18 featuring Raw and Smackdown on a show that should have mostly Raw vs. Smackdown matches. I’ll be back during the week with the usual Raw and Smackdown reviews. Until next time, thanks for reading.

About John Canton

John has been writing about WWE online since the late 1990s. He's written for WhatCulture, Bleacher Report, Layfield Report, Rajah.com and many other places. You can follow John Canton on Twitter @johnreport or email him at mrjohncanton@gmail.com with any comments or questions. For more of his wrestling opinions, visit his website at TJRWrestling.net.